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About That Massachusetts Senate Race

Monday, January 11, 2010, 21:59 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

(9:45 p.m. – The campaign has reached 1,012,059.94 with slightly over two hours to go. The site seems to be inundated with traffic and times out frequently.)

(7:20 p.m. – Now I know what they mean by an Instalanche! This is my lucky day. Better play the lottery on the way home…)

(7:04 p.m. – See UPDATE below.)

U.S. Senate candidates Martha Coakley and Scott BrownIf you’re in Massachusetts, the Democrat will get elected, as sure as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. But something is happening in the race to succeed the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy that may defy, if not the laws of astrophysics, then at least the conventional wisdom here in the bluest of blue states.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has led the race until just recently (and still leads in some polls), but State Senator Scott Brown is surging. Still, the polls are all over the place, as Pollster.com points out.

The new survey conducted Saturday through Wednesday last week by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center on behalf of the Boston Globe shows Democrat Martha Coakley leading by 17 percentage points (53% to 36%), while a new automated poll conducted on Thursday and Friday by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows a dead heat, with Brown one point ahead (48% to 47%). A third survey conducted on Monday by Rasmussen Reports has Coakley ahead by nine (50% to 41%).

Read a little farther, though, and you see that what appears to be inconsistency from poll to poll may not be at all. Coakley does the best in polls that include all registered voters, but much less well among those who self-identify as most interested in the race and most certain to vote. That’s why Brown should pray for cold and snow that will keep the lukewarm voters at home, while Coakley should pray for bright sunshine and 50°.

In a move that may have been designed to capitalize on excitement generated by the poll trends, today the Brown campaign initiated a “moneybomb,” a one-day online fundraising push they hope will raise $500,000. They’ve been spreading the word on Brown’s Twitter feed and, with help from a few interested national bloggers including Glenn Reynolds, seem to be doing quite well. They hit the halfway mark a little before 12:30, surpassed their initial goal at around 4:00, raised the goal to $750,000, and according to my number-crunching are currently on a pace to end the effort at about $886,000. That projection doesn’t take into account fewer people being awake later in the evening, but it also ignores a potential surge when east-coasters (not to mention donors from the western time zones) go online after work. (UPDATE 7:04 p.m.: Up over $800,000 now, on a pace for $1,020,000. It looks like the donations are coming in at a rate of about give-or-take $1,500 per MINUTE.)

But elections aren’t won in the telephone polls or online. The only result that counts is in the ballots. Next Tuesday will be very interesting, especially if bad weather keeps the less committed voters off the roads.

My own thoughts on the race in general and the candidates in particular, with positions coming from their respective campaign web sites (Brown, Coakley):

  • Neither candidate has much specific to say about the economy or further stimulus spending. Coakley makes reference to “[tackling] the economic crisis head on,” while Brown advocates lowering taxes. Edge: Brown.
  • Coakley favors both an “individual mandate” requiring all Americans to buy medical insurance and an additional “public insurance option” in addition to Medicare and Medicaid. Brown opposes the mandatory medical insurance bills passed by the House and Senate and instead favors pursuing affordability through the “private market system.” Edge: Brown.
  • Brown’s campaign site says nothing about our current wars. Coakley opposes Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan. Edge: Brown.
  • Brown is in favor of capital punishment for some “heinous” crimes. Coakley cites her “strong opposition” to the the death penalty. Edge: Coakley.
  • Coakley wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and end Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for the military. Brown says only that he believes states should determine their own laws. Edge: Coakley.
  • Both Coakley and Brown are pro-abortion, but Brown opposes partial-birth abortions and supports parental consent laws. Coakley opposes any limits or regulations on abortion and supports restricting free speech outside abortion clinics. Edge: Brown.
  • Brown favors only legal, controlled immigration. Coakley doesn’t mention immigration on her campaign site. Edge: Brown.
  • This is purely cosmetic and meaningless, but Coakley’s voice drives me up the wall. Every time I hear one of her commercials, all I can think of is Steve Urkel. Listen for yourself (Coakley in a campaign ad, Urkel on YouTube) and see what you think.
  • On a meaningless side note, I had no idea Brown was married to local television reporter Gail Huff or that one of their daughters was a contestant on American Idol.

Finally, if you are a registered voter in Massachusetts, be sure to get out and vote on Tuesday, January 19. The polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. To find your polling place, look it up on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s web site.

  1. Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 00:37 EDT at 00:37

    Hmmm, I think Urkel sounds better! 🙂

  2. Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 01:21 EDT at 01:21

    Don't understimate the Power of The Voice.Many voters in NY-23 reported that they couldn't vote for Hoffman because they found his voice annoying.Let's hope lots of registered Democrats are as shallow in MA.

  3. Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 13:47 EDT at 13:47

    I've known Scott for a long time and he'd do a great job. The Boston Globe commissions a poll to put on the front page of the Sunday edition that 'strongly screens for potential voters' that puts their candidate way ahead? I'll take the under on that one.

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